Routines and Schedules

Routines and Schedules

It is times like this that I want to go back to my past self and give myself a high five!! The routines we put in place when our son was 3 years old or younger are still in place with some minor changes through the years and they are still working well 7 years later!! Bliss I tell you!

A routine is a series of things we do before or after an event. A schedule is based on set times certain events occur.

Schedules and Routines both have their place.

I find that set schedules do not work as well with infants but having a variety of routines in place does work really well.

We have a screen time schedule here which works like a charm! Our son watches a show at about 8 am, 11 am (when he is home), and 4 pm. We do have to be a bit flexible but we put in this place we would focus hugely on watching his programs. Once the set times were in place the constant asking for a show came to a complete stop. My response is “yes you can at __ time”.  After staying consistent with this for a while he really took to it.

I often have parents ask why their child is so well-behaved at daycare or school and not as much at home. The first thing is that children will unload their feelings at home where they feel safe. The second thing is that there is a great deal of structure with routines and schedules so the children know what to expect.

I often recommend that parents maintain similar schedules and routines at home.

You may find that you continue certain routines from your childhood. It is really cool how routines and schedules can really help children feel safe, secure, and be willing to do the steps without even realizing it.

I have to admit that our morning routine is my favorite.

Morning routine:

  1. Come in and give mom a hug
  2. Bathroom
  3. Snuggles with Mom and/or Dad
  4. Get Dressed
  5. Start watching You-Tube (Pause when breakfast is ready)
  6. Eat Breakfast
  7. Call Grandma (does not happen as often – he sleeps in!)
  8. Brush Teeth
  9. Put on socks
  10. Finishing watching You-Tube while getting the outdoor gear on
  11. Out the Door

It typically is very smooth and we have been doing a routine similar to this since he was 3!

There are a few things that you can do to help your child get familiar with a routine.

  1. Be consistent
  2. Use visuals (written list for older children and list using pictures for younger children)
  3. Use verbal reminders
  4. Use a timer to remind your child when they have to move to the next step

You can use routines throughout your day! Have fun fitting in the routines and do not forget to make them a little fun for your child as well!!

If you would like some help figuring out how routines and schedules can help your family, please feel free to book a free 15 minute consult to ask how I can help. You can book the free call by clicking on the following link https://calendly.com/brenda-mcsween/15min.

Below is the video I did and based this blog post on. Feel free to listen…​

Sleep: The Power of 15 minutes

Sleep: The Power of 15 minutes

I often find it incredible how a simple 15 minute time interval can make such a difference.

When we are teaching our young children how to sleep I find that people will move mountains, buy all the gadgets available, read all the books and not be aware of the power of a time block that will improve sleep immensely.

It can be really frustrating as a parent when a little one seems to be getting in the groove of sleeping and then bam, sleep has exited the building. Adding 15 minutes of being awake before each sleep can be an absolute game changer!

Yes, you read that correctly! Add 15 minutes of playtime, interaction time, or awake time before you offer sleep.

If your child has been sleeping okay and then things fall off the rails, simply add 15 minutes of awake time before you offer a nap or bedtime.

Falling off the rails usually means waking up several times a night, waking for a long period of time, waking at the crack of dawn, or fighting to go to sleep. Often when you add the 15 minutes of awake time your child gets back on track quite quickly.

You may find that you are adding 15 minutes of awake time every couple of weeks. That is quite normal!

Another way to use the 15-minute block of time is to only spend 15 minutes trying to get your child back to sleep after a short nap.

I often hear families that will keep trying to get their child back to sleep every 30 minutes or so after a short nap. This turns into an exercise of frustration for the child and parent.  After 15 minutes of trying to get your child back to sleep, stop and wait for the next period of time when your child is ready for sleep according to her desired wake time.

Do not underestimate the power of the 15-minute block, especially with your child’s sleep!

 

Happy Parenting and Sleeping,

Brenda

 

White Noise or Not?

White Noise or Not?

There seems to be this constant issue where something is good for a bit; then, bang now it is bad.  I have also seen when bad things are now good (do not introduce certain foods until 1, now do it as soon as you introduce solids).  Let the confusion about what to do with a baby happen again: Should you use or not use a white noise machine or device?

If something is too loud it can affect a child’s hearing.  Now do I think you should run into your child’s room and remove the white noise device you are using, NO!  I do think you should make sure it is not on a loud setting and it is placed away from your child’s crib, bassinet, or bed.

What is the purpose of white noise anyways?  In my opinion, the purpose of white noise is to reduce the effect everyday noises have on a child’s ability to remain asleep.  The steady quiet hum in the background appears to reduce the number of times my child is startled awake.  I have put a fan on in my little man’s room since he was just over 6 months.  This has reduced the amount of tip-toeing the other people in the house have had to partake in.

Here are some of the tips/points to consider if you choose to use white noise:

  1. It should be on a low setting.
  2. The device should not be right beside your child.
  3. Constant is better than intermittent.  Some children will wake up if the white noise shuts off.
  4. If your child really likes the background noise you may find yourself having to pack a white noise machine or similar device when you travel.

Ultimately, the final decision is up to you as a parent.  If you are concerned, do not hesitate to remove the device or talk to your child’s doctor.  I hope this post has reduced your questions or sense of uncertainty around using white noise as a tool in your home.

Happy sleeping, everyone!!

 

 

 

Key Night Time Phrase..What is the Point?

Key Night Time Phrase..What is the Point?

 

When we use a key phrase to identify that it is time to sleep, it can help with our little ones settling down and preparing for sleep. This settling down period can cause their bodies to start to produce melatonin.

Once a child is over 4.5 months of age they will begin the process of producing melatonin. Melatonin is the sleep hormone that allows our little ones to go to sleep and stay asleep for long periods of time.

I have had the opportunity to hear many different key phrases that people use for sleep. The following are some of the most common:

  • “Night Night”
  • “Sleepy Time”
  • “Good Night”
  • “Do do”
  • “Time for Sleep”

This key phrase comes in really handy in the middle of the night or early morning when your child requires a reminder that it is still time for sleep. When you use your key phrase it is often enough to help your little one attempt to go back to sleep. It basically does 2 things. It reminds them that it is still time for sleep and it allows them to hear your voice which can be very calming.

A key phrase may seem like a very simple tool; however, sometimes it is the small things that make a huge impact!!

 

As Always, Be the Parent You Want to Be!

PS. If you would like more help with help to improve your child’s sleep click here to book a free 15-minute consultation with me (Brenda McSween) or click on the Work with me Tab above to book a service.

7 Tips to Improve Your Child’s Sleep Tonight

7 Tips to Improve Your Child’s Sleep Tonight

#Repost

During my practice as a sleep professional, I’ve gotten used to people asking me what the secret is to getting a baby to sleep through the night.

Of course, there is no ONE secret. Teaching a child healthy sleep habits is a combination of lots of different things.

But that doesn’t mean that there are not some shortcuts!  Today I’d like to share with you 7 different shortcuts you can start trying over the next few nights to get your child sleeping better.

Here we go:

Sleep Shortcut #1: Watch the waking hours

One of the BIGGEST enemies of sleep is overtiredness. Many parents are surprised to learn just how soon their children get overtired. Here’s a quick guide to how long your child should be awake between naps during the day:

  • Newborn to 3 months: 45 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes of awake time
  • 3-5 months: 1.5-2 hours of awake time
  • 6-8 months: 2-3 hours of awake time
  • 9-12 months: 3-4 hours of awake time13 months to 2.5 years: 5-6 hours of awake time

If you make sure that your child is put down for naps BEFORE they get overtired, you will find that they fall asleep more easily at naptime AND that they are more relaxed at bedtime, too.

Sleep Shortcut #2: Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

We humans (babies and toddlers included) sleep better in the dark. Try making your child’s room as dark as possible. I recommend using blackout blinds, taping cardboard over the windows, or whatever it takes. In many cases, even the glow from a nightlight or a digital alarm clock can be enough to disrupt your child’s sleep cycle.

BONUS TIP: Try to keep your child’s room as dark as possible during daytime naps, too. This can often make a BIG difference in how long your child will nap during the day.

Sleep Shortcut #3: Be Predictable (And A Little Boring)

Babies and toddlers love predictable routines. And a predictable bedtime routine, lasting no longer than 45 minutes, is a great way to let your child know when the time for sleep is coming. Make sure that this routine is the same every single time. Remember, you want bedtime to be as predictable as possible for your child.

After your bedtime routine is complete, be boring. Lots of children will try to drag out bedtime by playing games, throwing toys out of the crib, standing up, etc. Don’t participate. If your child has thrown their blanket or favorite stuffed toy out of the crib, calmly return the item without saying a word.

Sleep Shortcut #4: Feed AFTER Naps, Not Before

The most common reason they infants and toddlers struggle to sleep has to do with a feeding-sleep association. They think that they need a bottle or nursing BEFORE they can fall asleep. By feeding right after nap-time instead of before you can help your child break this feeding-sleep association.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This strategy should only be used before naps, not before putting your child to bed for the night. A full tummy is needed to make sure your child does not wake up hungry during the night.

Sleep Shortcut #5: Same Place, Same Time

Remembering that our children love predictability, so it is a good idea to have your child sleep in the same place every day. For many parents, simply changing WHERE their child naps during the day causes a big improvement in the length and quality of nighttime sleep.

BONUS TIP: When you are putting your child to sleep for the night, it is a good idea to make sure that they fall asleep where you want them to stay asleep.

Sleep Shortcut #6: Try The 1, 2, 3 System

When your child wakes up during the night or during a nap and starts crying or fussing, try to wait a specific length of time before going in to check on them. The first day you try this, I recommend waiting exactly one minute before going in to check on your child. On the second day, wait two minutes. Three minutes on the third day, and so on. Why?

Why? Everyone, babies and toddlers included, will wake up briefly at the end of each 45-minute sleep cycle. Most adults wake so briefly that we do not even remember it in the morning. But children who have not learned to fall asleep independently need a little longer.

This 1, 2, 3 System gives your child the opportunity to get themselves back to sleep without your help.

Sleep Shortcut #7: Take Five

Before you put your child to bed, for naps or at nighttime, make sure the five-minute period before they are put to bed is very calm and relaxing.

The Next Step?

As I said, these are shortcuts and quick tricks that may help some parents get their children sleeping through the night.  I do hope that you will be one of the lucky parents who are able to solve their children’s sleep problems using one of these tricks. If not I am also here for you if you need a little more guidance. Feel free to book a 15-minute free call to discuss your child’s sleep issues and how I can help.

Put a Stop to Night Time Parties

Put a Stop to Night Time Parties

 

What is a night time party? This is when your child is waking up throughout the night or waking and staying awake for a long period of time at night.

There are many reasons for these parties that parents can be forced to partake in. If your child is waking several times a night or staying awake for long, know that you are not alone but you can reduce these parties in several ways.

An important note to make is that all humans will wake several times a night. We all wake slightly at the end of our sleep cycles. Typically, we simply go into the next cycle of sleep with very little time in between cycles. Night wakings are only an issue if your child is waking up and requiring assistance for more than 4 days in a row.

Before we can talk about ways to reduce night wakings we need to discuss the reasons these wakings often happen.

 

Reasons for Night Wakings:

1. Overtired: When children are overtired they will wake several times a night or stay awake for long periods of time. (Click here for a list of the recommended hours of sleep needed)

2. Not Awake Enough During the Day: If our children are not staying awake enough during the day they often do not feel the need to sleep through the night.

3. Developmental Milestones: Each time a child learns a child is learning a new skill or reaching a developmental milestone it can often affect their sleep. Some of the most common developmental milestones that affect are as follows: rolling over, crawling, sitting up, crawling, separation anxiety, increased vocabulary, and vivid imaginations.

4. Not Enough Calories in the Daytime: If a child is not getting enough calories during the day they may be genuinely hungry at night.

5. Teething: Pain from teething can impact a child’s ability to stay asleep at night.

6. Illness: When are littles are not feeling well they may wake several times a night. It is important to help our littles when they are not feeling well.

7. Sleep Association: A sleep association is a person, place, thing, or action that helps a child go to sleep.  There are several very common sleep associations. The most common sleep associations are as follows: feed (breast or bottle) to sleep, rocking, bouncing on a yoga ball, and/or a pacifier;  If your child has a sleep association but they stay asleep all night, there is no problem. It becomes a problem when you are having to go in to assist your child in inserting the pacifier, giving a feed, rocking, bouncing, or just being there.

8. Wake to Feed Association: This is when our little ones expect a feed as soon as they wake.

Now that you know the common reasons for Night Wakings you can make changes that will result in more sleep.

Things to do about Night Wakings:

1. Watch the hours your child is awake through the day. If your child is not awake enough or is awake too much they will have interrupted nights. Often adding or reducing your child’s awake window by 15 minutes will reduce the night wakings.

2. Reduce the length of total daytime sleep. This may mean that you have to drop a nap or reduce the one nap.

2. Increase the calories your child receives through feeds (breast or bottle) and/or food depending on their age.

3. You can fade out or quickly remove your child’s association with going to sleep.

4. Change your child’s diaper or have a quick little “chat” before you feed when they wake up. This can be 30 seconds to 1 minute long. This will reduce the wake to feed association that can creep in.

 

Below is a video I did in the Supportive Sleep Learning and Parenting Group all about “Middle of the Night Parties”. Enjoy! If you would like some additional support to work out why your child is having middle of the night wakings. Feel free to book a free 15-minute call with me to discuss things further